The graphic said it all: the words SQL Server and Linux, linked together with a cheerful red heart. Microsoft’s announcement yesterday that it will bring its popular data software to Linux servers is the latest sign of its ongoing love affair with the open-source community.
It’s also smart business. As Microsoft’s Azure cloud services become an increasingly important part of the company’s business, Microsoft has to face the fact that many of its corporate customers are running Linux servers. The total number of Linux servers shipped grew by 50 percent between 2011 and 2014, while the number of Windows servers fell slightly, according to data from Gartner research cited in the New York Times.
Windows could take a hit from this decision, with more business customers choosing Linux as it becomes easier to do so. But today’s Microsoft is about much more than just Windows. Microsoft’s acquisition of cross-platform development company Xamarin a couple weeks ago, its overtures to the Java community, and its work on a Windows “bridge” for iOS apps—all signal that Microsoft wants to meet its customers, including developers, where they are. The days of insisting that everyone adopt Windows are over.
Microsoft is collaborating with Linux companies Canonical and Red Hat to bring the SQL Server to Linux by mid-2017. Some Microsoft customers will experience private previews starting this week, and there are rumors that other Microsoft enterprise software will soon be available on Linux as well. While Microsoft hasn’t specified which features of SQL Server will be available on Linux, it looks like the current previews are limited to “core relational database capabilities” of the software, with some other features missing. The final product will be based on SQL Server 2016 and include the new Stretch Database feature, which allows users to migrate their archived data to the cloud, then run queries on both the local and remote data.
Regardless of how the details play out, it’s clear that a more open Microsoft is on the horizon. For developers who have followed the company’s evolution, it’s a fascinating time.